October 2010

Editorial by Paul Cooper

Another beekeeping year draws to a close.  As well as the usual divisional reports, there is an extensive report from our busy-bee president, Jane Moseley, notes from the recent HBKA Exec meeting, details of the Honey Show and advice, if not too late, from the National Bee Unit on how to prepare colonies for winter.

After a few warm days in September, autumn is finally here with wet and windy weather at the start of October. If we do have any sunny days the bees will be out collecting the last of the season's pollen and nectar from ivy flowers which seem to be in great profusion this year, at least in east Herts.  Hopefully you should now have completed the varroa treatment and also finished feeding your bees if using syrup.  Now is the time to put on the woodpecker protection (a wrap of chicken wire) and fix the mouseguards across the entrance.

Welwyn news by Peter Folge

We had our last apiary meeting of the season on September 11th. Our guest Jane Moseley from Bishop Stortford Div. (Herts President) attended. The weather looked like rain but held off until we had finished. Perfect timing! I have been very pleased with this year's apiary attendances; we averaged over 15 members at every monthly meeting.
Varroa treatments should have finished and feeding well underway. I have recently started leaving a super of stores (without queen excluder) on for all full sized colonies. After hefting and finding some of these to be quite light, these have had a supplementary feed to get them through the winter months. Few inspections will have been made since the end of July and ideally colonies should now be left alone and the last inspection should have been carried out to make sure brood is healthy - eggs and larvae present. This will make sure that colonies go through the winter in the best condition possible. The Beekeeping season seemed very short this year with a late start and what seems to be an early finish. I am pleased to say all new beekeepers that wanted bees received either a nucleas or swarms. Many newly seasoned beekeepers acquired their first honey crop and sold their produce at local event
Early in the year interest was shown by some of the Welwyn Beekeepers regarding finding, identifying and collecting wild mushrooms. I was surprised by the number of books that came along to a Welwyn meeting. I therefore decided to try something a little more radical later in the year and on Sunday (26th Sept) I organised a “Fungal Foray” in our local 'Mardley Heath' woodlan
Expressed interest was keenly shown and a merry band of ‘Hunter Gatherers’ arrived with welly boots and waterproofs. We found an array of different fungi including edible and a few poisonous varieties. Baskets and bags were filled and having spread out our spoils of the day and pictures taken, some very tasty Boletes ended up being taken home for the dinner table. (Mind you I have not heard from that member since!) It was suggested that we should organise this event again and include one or two other events to end the year.

North Herts news by Christine Phillips

Winter meetings will be held as usual on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm at Howgills, 42 South View, Letchworth, SG6 3JJ

  • October 19th - The subject of this meeting is a closely gu :arded secret. Come along and find out more!
  • November 16th - Talk by Richard Smith "Honey from Hive to Jar"
  • December Christmas party? - To be discussed at October meeting.
  • February 15th - Talk by Chris Woodward " Insects in Your Garden"
  • March 15th - AGM, honey tasting and second hand beekeeping bargains.
  • April 19th - Talk / discussion on bee diseases.

Events at which N. Herts BKA will have a stall to promote beekeeping and to sell honey:

  • October 3rd at Codicote Garden Centre
  • October 23rd. Hitchin Apple Day in the old market square

Bishops Stortford news by Jane Moseley

5 Queens, 10 Jars & 1 Councillor

Our last Apiary meeting of the season included all of the above. A healthy turn out of about 20 members congregated at my house ready to inspect my 5 colonies. We split up into 2 groups with Dennis & Paul leading the inspection of a group of 3, while I led the inspection of the remaining 2. It actually turned out to be quite exciting as all 5 Queens were spotted despite 3 of the 5 not yet being clipped or marked. Comments were made about the health of the colonies which I put down to my use of BeeVital HiveClean, which everyone was very interested in. I have been using it since taking the honey off at the end of July and used before the supers went on and the Bees seem to think it’s OK.
Following our inspection we retired to the patio and tea. My mother - my wonderful assistant - was responsible for registering honey entries and blinding them. After tea and cakes we did our tasting - not the ideal, but hey if the honey tasted good following cakes 'n' tea/coffee it was definitely going to be a winner. The Winner - John Dockerill - was awarded his Bees Knees Honey certificate by our visiting celebrity - Local Councillor Colin Woodward. Colin is in full support of BSBKA and ways in which we can increase the number of BeeKeepers within the region. I am pleased to report that our Course in a Case has arrived and now the fun will begin as we create our first ever course to take place in the new year, a somewhat daunting yet exciting prospect. We have support of the other divisions within the county for which I and the other members are most grateful. BSBKA have no further apiary meetings scheduled for the rest of the year at this time, although we are to have our first ever harvest supper with dates to be confirmed.

West Herts news by Margaret Tighe

At our apiary meeting on 18th September, we were delighted to welcome Jane Moseley, President of the Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association. Members old and new were able to chat with her and she joined in the teaching session which is carried out around the beehives. The meeting was once again well attended with about twenty people present

In last month's news I mentioned the "starvation swarm" which Diane Bruce had just collected. I have since learnt that it had originally swarmed in a compost bin but after a while it swarmed on to a nearby fence, being unable to survive any longer in the bin due to a lack of fodder in the locality. I was most impressed to hear that this small swarm, after only a few weeks, was (with a little help from Diane) already increasing in size with fresh brood on several frames. Through their hard work and dedication, Lindsay and Diane have supplied ten new colonies to beekeepers this summer!

St Albans news by Christine Aitken

Winter meetings

  • 15th October 2010 at 8.00pm at Chiswell Green United Reformed Church Hall. Speaker will be Emma Wright of Rothamsted. After the refreshment break it is proposed to have a review of the beekeeping season with a question and answer session. These are always lively discussions and with so much knowledge amongst our membership - there is a lot to be learned by us all.
  • 26th November 2010 at 8.00pm at Chiswell Green United Reformed Church Hall is our Honey Tasting Show and Social. Our Honey Show is an informal evening where members bring a jar of their own unlabeled clear honey along and we all taste, judge and present a cup to the winner. Everyone also brings a plate of food which makes for an enjoyable evening. All members and their families welcome. 
  • 4th February 2011 at 8.00pm at Chiswell Green United Reformed Church Hall is our AGM. 

Apiary thefts

As reported in last months HertsBees nearly all colonies have been removed to other apiary sites. Concerns over security issues at Prae Wood had been ongoing with our landlord for some time prior to these thefts. He intends to rectify this matter over the winter months.

Beginners course 2011

The waiting list is now over 50 and as we can only take around 25 on the course there are unfortunately going to be some disappointed prospective beekeepers. 

Around the Apiary

Varroa treatments and winter feeding now completed it is time to protect our hives for overwintering. Mouse guards and anti-woodpecker protection are essential.

Presidents Report by Jane Moseley

A Whirl Wind Tour.. from Welwyn to Barnet via Croxley Green.

September has been busy but fun, I have met lots of lovely people. So in order to report back fairly I am keeping 2 of this months reports back for the next newsletter

A Peek Inside a Bee Inspector’s Hives!

It all started on the 11th September with Welwyn Group. I had missed one of their earlier apiary visits and wanted to be sure that I got a site visit in before everything moved indoors. Obviously nothing is straight forward and their meet coincided with our meet, which I was hosting so it was to be a full on Bee Day.

When I arrived at the Apiary site I was happy to see more idylls of the Hertfordshire countryside. Beyond the gate was a lush paddock with the farmhouse and out buildings bordering on two sides. Despite the shiny new gate there was the feel of a Victorian farm as a wide variety of of domestic fowl were running around doing their thing - Geese, Ducks, and a whole host of chickens. Peter was there ready and waiting with all his Bee paraphernalia neatly boxed up in his boot and a warm welcoming smile.

I don’t know why but I had this notion that Peter had done all the exams to become a Bee Inspector and hadn’t been keeping bees for more than 10 years because he looks so young. Don’t ask me where I got this idea from - it just came to me in my meeting him previously. Any way you could have knocked me down with a feather when he told me he’d been keeping Bees for over 25years! Gob smacked I was and still am.

Due to the weather forecast and the grumbling weather - dull overcast and a tad damp - not many of the local group had turned out to see Peter do what may well be his last inspection of the season.

The objective of the meeting was to ascertain the food stores for each of the hives, remove Queen Excluders where appropriate and to ensure that the Bees were ready for winter. Having already been treated for Varroa with thymol it was just a question of checking the brood levels and the feeding as required. Having left them with additional honey stores this year to see how they fared and of the 7 hives we inspected 3 required feeding. A young visitor popped by with his Mum to check out exactly what goes on at an Apiary visit and both were provided with veils so that they could get a closer look.

Others in the group already had their wood pecker protection sorted and were ready for Winter.

Welwyn is a strong group with over 60 members and have 2 Apiary sites with a third having been offered. Earlier this year the administration of the group was redefined and has enabled the group to work more cohesively and has strengthened their operations and given them a greater sense of organisation and direction.

Top tip from Peter - clean your tools in soda crystals - flipping brilliant it really does work!

It’s a Bee World

The Capel Manor open day is co located with the City Farms event which draws in people from all over London and SE Herts. It is an event supported this year in whole by SE Herts. Honey was for sale, course information available, a colouring station and an Observation Hive - complete with wasps. The latter with the wasp inclusion was a big attraction for the children in attendance, they thoroughly enjoyed that whole bee on wasp action, which seemed to be very long lasting.

In support of SE Herts I hauled over my extractor and a couple of supers which weren’t all ready and had fun doing demos with children of all ages dipping their fingers and getting truly sticky. At 2.15 I had to leave to get to the next .....

Location Location Location!

As we all know the siting of our Hives is a key consideration at the planning stage. Well South West Herts were in the right place when it came to Apiary sites back in the day.

I pulled into Croxley Green to discover that they had a wonderful Steam Fair on the Green. Nestled in a walled garden gathered a group of folk beneath the shade of the trees in the dappled sunlight with a kettle on a gaz stove. Robin the Chair introduced me and we were away inspections ahoy, split into 2 groups.

A group apiary site with 2 divisional hives which has been within there since the group started. While watching and listening to the advice being given by Frank’s mentor Brian. I learnt that the man I was speaking to was SW Herts Presidential representative, and what an interesting man Brian is with a family steeped in Bee Keeping, he is the 5th/6th generation to keep Bees with over 50 hives. To hear someone make reference to ordering jars by the pallet and sugar by the ton for personal use was an eye opening notion. I look forward to catching up with him again for my legacy book.

New members to the group benefit from the mentoring system they operate, this is a pattern that has emerged throughout the county Apiaries. Potential Bee Keepers were in attendance and enjoyed the experience immensely. Secretary Diane was the holder of the Apistan strips which were ordered as a division and then members could buy at the price of £5.00 per hive, a brilliant system I thought. This results in the site all having the same treatment which can be changed year on year according to the results -simple, effective and intelligent.

I had such a good time, I am going back!

THANK YOU to everyone for their hospitality and warm welcome.

Next Month......

Education Education Education! - a full report on my time at Buzzworks

Later that week I stopped by Buzzworks and met with Robin and his team. Now I have to say that a year ago I had no real idea who or what Buzzworks was or is, but when I was informed by a fellow BSBKA member I became intrigued to learn more. So in my capacity as Honorary President I had perfect excuse for a nose around.

Reaping the Reward - time spent with Barnet

Brilliant blue skies welcomed Suzy Perkins, the Honey Show Judge, and I to the Barnet Honey Show. Barnet is the largest of the divisions with 100+members a fact reflected in the entries to the show - 47 honeys and a full selection of bakes, wax and mead.

Notes from the September HBKA Exec Meeting

by Paul Cooper

As editor of Herts Bees I get to attend the HBKA Exec meetings as an observer.  So what follows is not a formal record of the meeting (for that you should speak to your divisional representatives) but just some key points that I noted that may be of interest to a wider readership.


It was reported that urban bees this year have produced a good honey yield; rural bees less so.

"More beekeepers means more swarms. This gives beekeepers a tarnished image". If this is correct then as responsible beekeepers we must have better communications with our neighbours to inform them of this natural process.

As the awareness of beekeeping increases amongst the general public, so local councils are keen to offer their sites (such as allotments) to local beekeepers.  However, most of us have back-garden apiaries or communal apiaries and therefore there is not much uptake of these offers. Hives on allotments could be prone to vandalism or be of concern to allotment holders. It was suggested that the National Farmers Union could be approached as farms hosting an apiary can help local farmers with funding.

Small hive beetle has been found in Hawaii so no more importing of Hawaiian bees.

Spraying has commenced in some areas for the Oak Processionary Moth. Contact your local authority for details.

The Little Allotment Company is interested in bees, along with pigs, ducks and hens on allotments. Visit their website for more details.  You can advertise honey sales at your apiary at the Urban Honey Collective for £4 per year. Or you can advertise for free if you live in Hertfordshire by emailing me.


There are 358 recorded members of HBKA. But as each of the eight divisions has quite a few members that have slipped through the net and are not recorded on the BBKA register, it is therefore estimated that there are over 400 members in HBKA. We have pretty much doubled in size over the past few years.

Please update the BKA (Editor: and the HBKA) website for details of your local swarm officer.

Bee Craft magazine is available at discount if taken as part of the group membership. Contact your local secretary for details.

Membership fees are due on 1st April and 1st September.  Can the late payers please contact David Brown. Also, please complete your Gift Aid forms if not already done so.

HBKA has received some very generous donations over the past few months so a Donations button has been added to the website incase anyone wishes to make further donations in the future.

Other news

The recent thefts from the St Albans apiary led to some prevention suggestions, e.g. screwing down the base to the frame and branding or giving a distinctive mark to the hive parts. See last month's newsletter.

Bee World went extremely well at the County Show.  At the date of the Exec meeting the Capel Manor event was still to happen.  The next division on the rota would determine what would be done next year.

EARS - Beekeepers in East Anglia today are buzzing with excitement, as a £100,000 bee research project gets underway. Public appreciation for the plight of honey bees has never been higher. Pollination contributes £165,000,000 to the agroeconomy, yet beekeepers report up to a third of their colonies have died in each of the last two years. Member associations of The East Anglian Bee Forum decided to do something for themselves and have obtained funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to investigate the interaction of honey bees and varroa – a parasitic mite implicated in significant UK bee loss. The beekeepers from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, West Norfolk, Peterborough, Huntingdon, Essex and Suffolk have committed some £16,000 over four years to support a PhD research studentship at Sheffield University, with the balance of £100,000 from BBSRC.  Hertfordshire BKA has been approached to provide sponsorship.

Hertford & Ware Division

Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association has created a new division covering Hertford & Ware. Dr Michael Cook is the chairman of the new division and he can be contacted at eismcook@aol.com or on ☏ 01992 423092.

The National Honey Show

The 79th National Honey Show, the U.K’s ‘gold standard’ honey show, is just weeks away. It will be held in Weybridge, Surrey from 28th to 30th October. There are almost 250 classes and beekeepers come from all over the world to enter so it is truly an international show. Why not book a ticket now to see the best of the best?

What’s on?

Apart from the world class honey show there will be a full programme of workshops and lectures throughout the event and a wide selection of trade stands with lots of equipment and books to buy. Speakers include Kim Flottum, Editor of Bee Culture, from U.S.A. and Dr Mark Goodwin whose research team carries out most of the honey bee research in New Zealand. Workshops (which should be booked in advance by 23rd October) cover a wide range of subjects including wax modelling, skep making and tips on passing the BBKA Basic Exam. You can see the line-up and download the show schedule on the NHS website www.honeyshow.co.uk Advance tickets are available now.

How much does it cost?

You can become a member of the National Honey Show for £10 (or £11 via PayPal) and then entry for the duration of the show is free. Admission for non-members is £12 per day. Accompanied children of 16 years and under are free and additional family members over 16 years living at the same address can come in for £5 each. On Saturday admission for non-members after 12 noon is £5. You can join by contacting the membership secretary, Mrs Sandra Rickwood, 19 Kenwood Drive, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, KT12 5AU. Alternatively, email srhoneyshow@googlemail.com or telephone 020 33 55 8716 and leave a message. You can also pay on the door but it is better to get an advance ticket and avoid the queue. A programme and show schedule is available on request.

The official closing date for show entries is 1st October but late entries will be accepted until 22nd October on payment of a £5 late entry fee.

How do I get my entries to the show?

Exhibitors delivering personally to the show must bring their entries on Wednesday 27th October between 2.30pm and 6pm. You hand them over to a steward who will stage them for you. You could use a courier or post to The National Honey Show, c/o “Facilities”, St George’s College, Addlestone, Weybridge, KT15 2QS. Postal entries must arrive at St Georges College after 20th October and before noon on 27th October. Why not persuade one member of your association to bring all the entries from your association to the show? You could split the fuel costs. Don’t forget someone will also need to collect them at 4.30pm on Saturday 31st October, immediately after the show closes. Thornes have, once again, kindly agreed to take exhibits to the show on your behalf. You can drop your entries at Wragby by Monday 25th October or at Windsor or Stockbridge by Friday  22nd October. Jeremy Burbidge of Northern Bee Books has kindly offered the same facility to anyone who can deliver to him. (By Monday 25th October and please call him before you visit.) Scout Bottom Farm, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire HX7 5JS (01422 882751 – jeremy@recordermail.demon.co.uk)

Where is the show?

The show is at St Georges College, Woburn Hill, Addlestone, Weybridge, Surrey, KT15 2QS

Opening times: Thursday 28th October 1.45pm to 6pm Friday 29th October 9.00am to 6pm Saturday 30st October 9.00am to 4.30pm

How do I get there?

By road: from junction 11 of the M25 (marked Chertsey) follow signs to Weybridge. At the roundabout, take the third exit, A317 to Weybridge. Turn left at the next roundabout into the college.

By rail: Trains leave from Waterloo station to Weybridge. Then, either take a taxi or a connecting train to Addlestone – the college is ten minutes walk from the station. Please make sure in advance that there is a suitable connection. www.nationalrail.co.uk or 08457 48 49 50.

Public transport advice: www.traveline.info or 0871 200 22 33

The show programme, which is available on request, (see above), includes maps and directions. See you there!

National Bee Unit - Preparing Colonies for Winter

As we approach the end of the summer season the National Bee Unit has created an advisory document called 'Preparing honeybee colonies for winter' (click to view). We hope that this is of use to you as a beekeeper and the document will also be available on BeeBase for future reference. Please send us your comments as feedback is most welcome.

Kind regards, National Bee Unit

Husbandry Survey for 2010

Many apologies to those beekeepers who already received this email in June. If you have completed the Husbandry Survey for 2010 many thanks for doing so and please do not re-complete. We are once again conducting a national survey to obtain information on current honey bee husbandry practices and would be very grateful if you could take 10 minutes to complete it.  The survey will be of great value to beekeeping in the UK. All answers are strictly confidential and will be used only for the purposes of this study. The survey can be found here:


It can also be found in the 'Recent News' section on BeeBase: www.nationalbeeunit.com. Please note, however, if you use Google Chrome as your internet browser that the survey may not load properly and you may need to switch to a different browser to be able to successfully submit it.

Kind regards,
National Bee Unit

Bee Keeping - A Novices Guide (Advertisement)

by David Wootton

As a relatively new bee keeper myself I found that many books written for new bee keepers, were written by experts who assumed the reader knew something. As a professional photographer, I have photographed my bees and bee keeping in general and felt that a book with photographs explaining different aspects would be useful to the novice.

I was aided in writing the book by my mentors, a husband and wife with 30 years experience of bee keeping. The book is published 15th October and is being printed to the highest standards on 170gsm high grade white satin paper. Printed in the UK the quality is superb with the images really standing out on this paper.

I am self marketing the book and you are able to view pages from the book on the website www.beekeeping-book.com.

The website give full details on the book, enabling the viewing of the first 22 pages and enables viewers to order the book online.

I hope that you find the book of interest and will be willing to pass information re the book and the website to your association bee course tutors and prospective new bee keeping members.